The best books for upper elementary and middle grades featuring girls who are overcomers

Bob Krech Author Of Love Puppies and Corner Kicks
By Bob Krech

Who am I?

I was an elementary classroom teacher for more than thirty years and my favorite thing to do with my students was “read alouds,” which of course meant I got to read a lot of books. Then I read them to my kids and now my grandkids. I always wanted to read the best because time is so precious in a classroom. My daughter was born very premature and only survived thanks to God and her innate feistiness. She is an overcomer and inspires me to share similar stories. Of the books I’ve written for kids, 2 of the 3 protagonists are girls!

I wrote...

Love Puppies and Corner Kicks

By Bob Krech,

Book cover of Love Puppies and Corner Kicks

What is my book about?

Change, while challenging, often drives personal growth, as 13-year-old Andrea discovers. When her father announces the family is relocating to Scotland for a year, Andrea fears her new schoolmates will uncover her secret: She stutters. At home in the States, Andrea’s stellar soccer skills and occasional use of her fists have enabled her to suppress her insecurities. At Dunnotar Academy, Andrea faces the dual stressors of new surroundings and social situations. A place on the Tough Girls Football Club soccer team seems a perfect opportunity for Andrea to rely on familiar strategies to conceal her speech issues. However, a blossoming friendship with a less popular girl and a fledgling romance give Andrea the courage to confront her anxieties. Andrea can literally stay quiet and fit in or risk all by speaking up for herself and others. 

The books I picked & why

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Harriet the Spy

By Louise Fitzhugh,

Book cover of Harriet the Spy

Why this book?

I love stories with kids in the sixties in New York City when a kid could pretty much roam at will. This is one, though that’s not the focus. Harriet M. Welsch, who likes to think of herself as a sort of spy is definitely a keen observer. In her notebook, she writes down everything she knows about everyone, including her classmates and her best friends. It is all truthful, but sometimes not so flattering. Then she loses the notebook! Will she find it before someone else does and keep all the secrets secret? Or will it end up in the wrong hands? And if it does, then what does Harriet do? 


By Jerry Spinelli,

Book cover of Stargirl

Why this book?

I know there’s a movie, a play, and a comic book at this point. But read the original book – Stargirl! It’s still the best. “Stargirl” Caraway shows up at Mica High School after being home-schooled her whole life. She does her own thing in an honest, uninhibited way. She brings her pet rat and ukulele to school every day and plays and sings “Happy Birthday” to any and every student on their birthday. She wears kimonos and pioneer clothes. At first everyone else is not sure what to make of her and she is kept at a distance, but eventually she wins people over. Then things go terribly wrong and Stargirl has to decide if it’s best to fit in or be true to herself. 

The Great Gilly Hopkins

By Katherine Paterson,

Book cover of The Great Gilly Hopkins

Why this book?

A Newberry Honor book by a great author. Gilly Hopkins has been in and out of foster homes due to her “uncooperative” nature till she finally lands with a formidable, unusual, and loving family, the Trotters. Gilly likes to be in charge, and she can always smell a phony and figure a way out of there, but this time around, the overwhelming love and matter-of-fact, positive, no-nonsense attitude of Mrs. Trotter make foster care a whole new ball game for Gilly. A realistic, but heartwarming story.

Walk Two Moons

By Sharon Creech,

Book cover of Walk Two Moons

Why this book?

It’s a Newberry Award winner, so you know something good is going on here. I must admit, there have been some duds over the many years of the award, but in this case, the writing, the story, and the characters, really do warrant the accolade. Salamanca (Sal) Tree Hiddle is the heroine and voice here. She’s proud of her American-Indian heritage and country roots. She’s on a journey across country from Ohio to Idaho to find her mother. Her somewhat eccentric grandparents are her companions and as they travel Sal tells them the story of another girl, Phoebe Winterbottom, so we have a story within a story. You like a great, realistic, meaningful ending? Me too! You’ll find it here.


By Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake (illustrator),

Book cover of Matilda

Why this book?

Again, loved the play and the movie, but the book is still the best. Humor, wit, courage, love, action, terror, this book has it all. And who can beat Roald Dahl at telling a tale? Matilda is quite the intrepid heroine who overcomes an unloving, criminal family and a cruel and dangerous school headmistress to persevere in love and life. Still one of my favorites, especially as a read-aloud.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in school, popularity, and foster care?

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School Explore 167 books about school
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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